Cornell Veterinary School Expansion Construction Update, 5/2016

25 05 2016

From Tower Road, it doesn’t appear a whole lot has changed since the last construction update in March. Work has shifted away from new construction somewhat, and towards the demolition of underused academic space to make way for the rest of the Vet School reconfiguration and expansion. The reinforced concrete frame of the new library and dean’s wing has advanced a bit, and new curtain wall glazing appears to be going in on the Vert Research Tower. The project is a bit disjointed because of the needs of academic space and surging at various times of the year.

Thanks to the kindness of a woman in blue scrubs, I was able to enter the building. While trying to find a good angle of the new demolition (couldn’t, but there’s a photo on the Vet School website here), I stumbled upon a model and timeline of the project, pictures below. According to the timeline here, the project completion is January 2018, not June 2017 as reported on the website. Dunno which one is more accurate. The model does a great job illustrating the full breadth of the project in relation to the rest of the vet school complex.

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Looking east from Tower Avenue. Rendering property of Cornell.

Looking east from Tower Avenue. Rendering property of Cornell.

Looking west from new courtyard. Rendering property of Cornell.

Looking west from new courtyard. Rendering property of Cornell.





News Tidbits 5/21/16: Building Bridges, or Burning Bridges

21 05 2016

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1. 209-215 Dryden Road has a name: the Breazzano Family Center for Business Education. Let’s just call it the Breazzano Center for short. The name comes as part of a $25 million donation from Cornell MBA alum David Brezzano ’80, and is named in honor of him and his three sons, all recent Johnson School graduates. According to the Cornell Chronicle, the donation will “substantially support” the building’s construction, which construction loans on file with the county have pegged at $15.9 million. Breazzano is the president of money management and investment firm DDJ Capital Management, and did his undergrad at Union College in Schenectady, where he serves as trustee.

John Novarr is the developer for the 6-story, 76,200 sq ft building, and Cornell will occupy 100% of the structure on a 50-year lease.

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2. So, something weird is going on. The city BPW is set to discuss an encroachment for the Chapter House reconstruction at their meeting on the 23rd. However, all the paperwork included in the agenda dates from before the sale and refers to the previous owner. So either the new owner is pursuing the encroachment and the information hasn’t been updated, or this is outdated/no longer being pursued and no one’s updated the BPW paperwork. I tried calling the project architect (Jason Demarest) but he’s out of town until Saturday, and this publishes Friday night, so…dunno. Hopefully someone can provide some insight. For the record, the encroachment is for the first-floor roof overhang over the sidewalk, and will cost the developer $33,812.28.

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Open question, would a brick-for-brick rebuild had to have paid for this encroachment as well? It existed with the original structure, this was designed with heavy ILPC input, and given that project costs seem to be why this is in jeopardy…it just seems like an unnecessary obstacle. I know it’s a new build, but it’s replicating a previous encroachment for the sake of character. It seems like the project is being financially punished for that.

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3. For this week’s eye candy, the above image appears to be the city’s proposed redesign for the Brindley Street Bridge over on the West End. Pretty similar to existing newer or renovated bridges in the city (Clinton Street, South Aurora Street), with older-style lamp posts and stylized concrete railings.

Alternative 2 calls for a pedestrian bridge to replace the existing Brindley Street Bridge, which was last renovated in 1952. A new bridge for vehicle traffic would be built south from the intersection of Taughannock and West State Streets, over the inlet, and intersecting with Taber Street. The project is expected to go out to bid next year, and completed in 2018.

4. Per the Ithaca Times, the Taughannock Farms Inn out in Ulysses has some expansions and renovations planned since new ownership purchased the property back in February. Along with a bistro for lighter fare, an electric car charging station and a dock, the Times introduced plans for a 2-story, 200-person event center that would be built on the Inn’s property. The purpose of the event center is to provide additional space for events like weddings and formals, and to capture a bit of the mid-week business meeting and convention crowd. The inn itself has 22 guest rooms in five buildings.

The original inn building dates from 1873, when it was a “summer cottage” for John and Molly Jones of Philadelphia. The Joneses also owned Taughannock Falls at the time, though they would eventually deed it over to the state in the mid 1930s to create the park. The current owners are only the fourth in the 143-year history of the property.

5. A couple of big sales in Tompkins County this week. The first one was 308 Eddy Street, a 12-bedroom apartment house in Collegetown. The Lambrou family, one of Collegetown’s medium-sized landlords at ~400 beds, sold the property to the O’Connor family (a smaller landlord family) for $1,225,000 on the 18th. The O’Connor don’t tend to develop their own properties, and 308 Eddy was receently re-roofed anyway, so don’t expect any changes here, but take it as a demonstration of what a captive rental market, high land values and high taxes will do.

The other big sale was outside of Ithaca, at 1038-40 Comfort Road in Danby. A purchaser bought several land and cabin properties being touted as a high end B&B for $1,300,000. The purchases are a couple from Florida, one of which founded the Finger Lakes School of Massage in the 1990s and now heads an aromatherapy institute.

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6. According to a report from the Dryden town board liaison to their planning board, the Varna Community Association’s reception to “Tiny Timbers” at the corner of Freese and Dryden Roads has been mostly positive, apart from minor traffic concerns to the 16-house project. More lukewarm was the reception to the 36-unit Evergreen Townhouses proposal at 1061 Dryden, where concerns were raised about having enough green space, and whether it was too far outside Varna to be an appropriate location.

The neighbor two doors down has already started to fight the project, and this is probably going to play out like 902 Dryden did over the past several months. Here’s a pro tip when you’re writing up that angry screed – please stop arguing that renters are second class citizens. Just stop.

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7. Therm Incorporated will be presented plans for a stand-alone 20,000 SF manufacturing facility to the town board next week. The addition will be located at their property at 1000 Hudson Street Extension, between its main building and the quonset huts. In a rarity, the industrial-zoned property won’t need to heard to a zoning board – no variances required. The new building will replaces a 3,434 SF ceramics studio. As previously reported on the Voice, Therm expects to create 10 jobs with the expansion. Therm, located at its current facility since its founding in 1935, specializes in custom machining, primarily for the aerospace and industrial turbine industries.

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8. Not a very exciting agenda for the Ithaca city planning board this month.

1. Agenda review
2. Floor Privilege
3. Special Order of Business: Incentive Zoning & Site Plan Review Discussion (Lynn Truame)

4. Subdivision Review
A. Minor Subdivision, 312-314 Spencer Road, Charlie O’Connor (MLR)

5. Site Plan Review
A. Sketch Plan, Two Duplexes at 312-314 Spencer Road

This came up back in March – Charlie O’Connor plans on re-configuring vacant street-facing property behind two houses to build two duplexes near Lucatelli’s. STREAM Collaborative is the architect.

Originally, this was at the end of the agenda as sketch plans usually are, but the agenda was revised so that the sketch plan would be allowed to go first.

B. 201 College Avenue – Declaration of Lead Agency, Public Hearing, Determination of Environmental Significance, recommendation to the BZA

C. Elmira Savings Bank, 602 West State Street – Declaration of Lead Agency, Public Hearing, Potential Determination of Environmental Significance, recommendation to the BZA

D. Brindley Street Bridge, seen above – revised FEAF review (parts 2 and 3), recommendations to lead agency (BPW).

6. Umpteen million zoning appeals, none especially contentious
7. Chain Works DGEIS Review, Update Schedule and Special Meeting Schedule.





209-215 Dryden Road Construction Update, 04/2016

25 04 2016

The overview came as part of the Ithaca Voice roundup last week, but the number of photos that can be included is rather limited for two reasons. One, the labyrinthine picture portfolio in the Voice’s storage eats up space, and two, the general readers of the Voice mostly only care to see a couple of photos per location.

Work is well into the excavation phase of construction. The building’s basement (“lower level”) will hold a 90-space large group instruction classroom, a commons area for dining and mingling, some business offices, utilities and storage space. The large atrium area is meant to give some feeling of connectivity and openness with the upper six floors.

Side note, looks like Collegetown’s graffiti artists have had a field day with the fencing.

Because of the tight situation, construction staging is taking place on land that used to be a boarding house at 238 Linden, and into the public right of way on Linden Avenue and Dryden Road. After the building is completed in 2017, don’t be surprised if 238 receives a housing replacement consistent with CR-4 zoning.

Local businessmen John Novarr and Philip Proujansky are spearheading the project, with Cornell as sold tenant. Syracuse’s Hayner Hoyt is the general contractor.

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Cornell Veterinary School Expansion Construction Update, 3/2016

30 03 2016

A generalized summary can be found on the Voice here. The concrete frame for the Veterinary School expansion is up to the third and final floor of what will be the new Flower-Sprecher library. As build-out continues, the existing building behind (east) of the new construction will come down and be replaced with new program space; the second floor will sit above an entry court and pedestrian walkway that leads to an indoor gallery space and central courtyard. The open space on the right (south) side of the structure will be a two-story atrium space. The addition will have a glass curtain wall, and the academic spaces that face the gallery will be faced with wood panels.

Cornell and general contractor Welliver will be looking to bring the project to completion by June 2017. Weiss/Manfredi is the project architect.

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Upson Hall Construction Update, 3/2016

28 03 2016

This one’s short and sweet for the moment due to time constraints. A generalized description of the latest progress can be found on the Voice here, and Cornell’s bi-weekly progress report is here. A more thorough rundown was given in January’s update here.

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209-215 Dryden Road Construction Update, 02/2016

3 03 2016

First progress report of many. As Collegetown projects go, Novarr-Mackesey’s plan for 209-215 Dryden stands out for a number of reasons.

For one, it calls for a six-story plus basement, 76,200 SF academic/research building to be 100% occupied by Cornell University’s Executive MBA program. No residential or mixed-use to be found here, and given its primary occupancy of office workers and Executive MBA students (who tend to be older, deep-pocketed and will only be coming up from New York a few weeks of the year), not the typical Collegetown crowd either.

For two, this is one of those rare occasions where a Collegetown building under construction is not designed by local firm Jagat Sharma. ikon.5 Architects of Princeton, a John Novarr favorite, penned the steel-and-glass box with its multicolored steel mullions.

By the city’s estimate (from the Site Plan Review form), the construction itself will cost $12 million. From construction loan paperwork filed with the county in December, the total cost, including hard and soft construction costs, will be $15,912,823.33. Wells Fargo Northwest is the lender.

In September, the county approved a payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT)-like tax abatement, taxing the finished building at $5.2 million plus 2% per year. The amount is still more than the ~$1 million value of the original, unimproved properties on the site, and it comes with a 50-year guarantee that Cornell won’t be able to but the property and make it tax-exempt, something that was hinted at a few times in the TCIDA application.

209-215 Dryden will host about 420 Cornell MBA students and staff when it opens in late Spring 2017, later increasing to 600 as Cornell fills out the rest of the square footage. The basement and first three floors will be dedicated classroom/academic space (including 90-person LGI classrooms), and the upper three floors will be office space. A large three-story atrium will mark the building’s primary entrance. At opening, it will be fully leased by Cornell, but only 70% occupied. Sounds like plenty of short-term flex space.

Since December, the site has been cleared of weeds and any remaining debris, and it looks like foundation prep work (excavation) might be starting on the far side of the property away from the streets. Some steel H-beams have been brought to the site, possibly for use in shoring up the site along the excavation perimeter. The H-beams are drilled or driven in at regular intervals, and hold the soil back while the foundation is excavated. A pile driver, tubular piles, an excavator, and a Dynapac compaction roller are on-site. So, the primary duties at hand appear to be excavation of the new building’s foundation, and shoring up the soil surrounding it so that the site remains stable while that work is going on.

As the signage on Novarr’s corner building suggests, Hayner Hoyt Corporation of Syracuse will be the general contractor.

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Gannett Health Center Construction Update, 1/2016

14 01 2016

Maybe it’s just the grey January skies, but the multi-colored glazing on the outside of the new Gannett Health Center is more subtle than the renders would suggest. Work is continuing on Phase I of the $55 million project, which is planning to open this summer. Once it does, Gannett’s services will shift over into the new structure, so that phase II, renovations to the original 1956 building and the 1979 addition can take place. The building project is expected to wrap up in August 2017, and a phase III focusing on the Ho Plaza entrance and landscaping will be underway from June to October of 2017, after which the project will finally be completed. The project will increase Gannett’s size from 35,000 SF to 96,000 SF.

Most of the windows have been installed, although some yellow DensGlass gypsum sheathing and metal exterior wall studs can still be seen from many angles. According to the Site Plan Review docs, the curtain wall “suggests an abstracted quilt pattern” meant to conjure up images of care-giving and recovery. Other exterior cladding materials, including a native bluestone veneer and limestone panels, have yet to be installed.

Organizations working on the design include local architecture firm Chiang | O’Brien Architects, TG Miller P.C.Engineers and Surveyors, and Ryan Briggs Structural Engineers. The Pike Company is serving as the general contractor.
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